INTERVIEW UPDATE: AJ STYLES
When I first interviewed
“the Phenomenal” AJ Styles in November, 2003 he had just lost the NWA World Heavyweight title to Jeff Jarrett
and was also working for Ring of Honor. Much has happened in his career since then so I caught up with Mr. Styles after a
TNA Wrestling Impact! TV Taping at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida two days after he regained the NWA World
X Division title by defeating Chris Sabin and Petey Williams in the Ultimate X match at the Final Resolution PPV.
Alan Wojcik: You were in
one of the four matches made between All Japan and Ring of Honor. Your match was with former WCW star and I believe former
opponent Kaz Hayashi. What are your memories of the match and being part of a historic event that saw the return of the Great
Muta to American wrestling fans?
AJ Styles: It was fun and
you mentioned working with Kaz in WCW so I knew it would be a great match. He is a tremendous worker and I thought we pulled
of a great match. I was happy to be part of that event with ROH.
AW: Any goose bumps being
in the same dressing room as Muta?
AJ Styles: I think everyone
had them and I was honored to have spoken to him and thanked him for being part of the show.
AW: On February 2, 2004 you had an interesting partnership formed with the monster Abyss. That night
you two won the NWA World Tag Team championships from the Redshirt Security (Ryan Wilson and Kevin Northcutt) but were later
stripped of the belts by DOA Vince Russo. Memories of working with Abyss as your partner.
AJ Styles: I don’t
remember much because it was so weird and never really sank in. I think the fans were confused as well. They write the show
so I go with the flow.
AW: In early 2004 TNA created
a new event, the America’s X Cup. You weren’t
part of Team NWA, was there ever talk of you being part of it and did you feel slighted?
AJ Styles: There wasn’t
any talk of me being in it. At first I was a little jealous because they were going to have cool matches. Then I realized
the different competitors and styles would lead to difficult matches. The language barrier with Team Mexico
and Japan I am sure made match making hard. Looking back I
am glad I wasn’t part of it.
AW: Before, during and after
the feud with Abyss you had some run-ins with a man who has had a difficult few years, “the Total Package” Lex
AJ Styles: Lex was very cool
and I thought we did what we could do. The fact that he was a nice guy is still is to this day was great to experience. I
have to admit being put in the Human Torture Rack was cool. You mentioned Muta, but everyone watched WCW as a kid know who
Lex Luger is. Not to sound cruel but I put aside his personal life since it didn’t really concern me.
AW: During Samoa Joe’s
21 month ROH World title reign, Ring Of Honor developed the Pure Title. What were your feelings on the belt and memories of
AJ Styles: I thought it was
a good idea and the rules were cool. Those rules established the champion was a pure wrestler and he doesn’t use gimmicks.
Being their first champion was great.
AW: Do you feel the creation
of the Pure title was a slight to Samoa Joe or was it an alternative for the fans?
AJ Styles: I think it was
an alternative to the fans. If fans thought it was a slap to Joe or he took it that way and can’t bring it to the ring,
I can’t help the way he interpreted it. I don’t think he saw it that way. I think they thought it would create
a rivalry over the titles.
AW: In the tournament to
become the Pure champion you defeated Jimmy Rave, Matt Stryker and CM Punk.
AJ Styles: Jimmy Rave and
I wrestled many times down in NWA Wildside and that match turned out great. I was surprised when he took advantage of my knee
being hurt and it was interesting to see he has a mean streak. Matt’s a
great wrestler and you see that each time he gets in the ring. CM Punk and I have gotten together a couple of times. Everything
clicked that night and we gave the fans a great match.
AW: What were some of the
factors that led to leaving ROH, was it the situation with Rob Feinstein or some political issues you can’t divulge?
AJ Styles: This is very easy
to talk about Alan because it’s the truth. Rob was the reason why all the issues with ROH and TNA happen. TNA couldn’t
be associated with Rob and keep the family show we were trying to strive for with Xplosion. It didn’t have to deal with
the PPV or other ventures. We were ready to resolve the issue by asking Gabe (Sapolsky) to sign papers that Rob wasn’t
part of the promotion. By signing that me, Christopher Daniels and Chris Sabin would continue to work for ROH. That was the
big red flag and it came out Rob was still working for ROH. I can’t see how fans were mad at TNA when ROH was lying
AW: On April 21, 2004 you won the NWA World Heavyweight title from Jeff Jarrett after several events
that night. At the beginning of the night “Wildcat” Chris Harris was to face Jarrett but he was attacked by Raven.
Do you feel that was done as a reward for staying with TNA instead of going with ROH and memories of winning the title from
AJ Styles: I don’t
think so I think it was a reward just having it. I was never clued in to why they put me in the title slot. It was so long
ago that I can’t tell you. Matches sometimes blend together but I remember winning title belts. I do remember sitting
there looking at the title belt all night.
AW: On May 5th
you defended against Raven who was attacked after the match by what appeared to be LA Park but was actually Chris Harris.
That attack led to you defending the title against Harris on May 12th.
AJ Styles: You know I feel
bad for Harris since it was title shot but who’s going to turn down a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight title. Maybe
I took a cheap shot on him at the end and but if you want something real bad you might resort to anything to get it.
AW: On May 19th
your title reign ended at the hands of the “Suntan Superman” Ron Killings in a match that also included Raven
and Chris Harris. Then on June 2nd Killings lost the title to the current champion Jeff Jarrett in a “King
of the Mountain” match. How did you feel about being put in multiple opponent matches with the NWA World title on the
AJ Styles: Well I guess I felt I was being punished since they all weren’t the number one contender. So you
go to the ring to do you what is required and sometimes you get some stitches in MY HEAD. You couldn’t see it but I
was bleeding all over. I was happy Ron got it but they flip flopped it back to Jeff I guess so when Impact launched we had
our big name holding the title.
AW: Speaking of Impact on
the June 9th taping you retuned to the X Division in glorious fashion as you won the X title from Frankie “the
Future” Kazarian. Was it you or TNA that placed you back in the X Division?
AJ Styles: It was me; I told
them I was more comfortable in the X Division. It’s not every day you get to be in the ring and be challenged by world
class talent in a style you like to work in.
AW: Not long after you took
the title from Kazarian, he and his co-hort Michael Shane tried to invoke a rule they claimed existed where a wrestler who
left the X Division and competed as a heavyweight could not come back to the division.
AJ Styles: That there shows
what big dummies they are since the motto of the X Division has always been “it’s not about weight limits it’s
about no limits.” Not that I am a huge heavyweight but title reigns shouldn’t dictate who you wrestle. Could be
they were scared of facing me.
AW: On June 23rd TNA Wrestling celebrated its second year of existence. That night you prepared
for a mystery opponent that turned out to be Jeff Hardy.
AJ Styles: It was exciting.
The way the fans reacted to Jeff blew me away. Jeff is a phenomenon. While the fans chanted his name they also chanted my
name which goes to show how much the fans respect me. The fans showed that night I had become a player in wrestling.
AW: Your title reign ended
on July 28th at the hands of the man you won it from Frankie Kazarian. Actually he and Michael Shane came down with the title
in their hands and were deemed co-X Division champions after beating you in the Ultimate X match. Your memories of the match
and how does one prepare to be in the Ultimate X match?
AJ Styles: I think you have
to approach the Ultimate X with some caution but then in the same sentence you are hanging fifteen feet above the ring with
nowhere to go but down. You have to go out there letting your fear be a stepping stone. It is the most innovative match in
wrestling. We’re not talking about a steel cage or scaffold you can walk on to retrieve the belt but I am sure Elix
Skipper will try to walk on it some day soon. As far as them being the co-champions I thought it was bizarre and the DOA should
have forced them to wrestle each other for the title. I think if Michael and I grabbed it that would have happened. I can
say I was a defending champion but you can’t beat everyone.
AW: Throughout August you
had several matches with the “Notorious KID” Kid Kash and his sometime tag team partner Lance Hoyt (formerly Dallas.)
There was a street fight on August 18th and a tables match on September 8th. Is it intimidating to work
someone with Kash’s resume or does it make you want to show you are in his class?
AJ Styles: Being a ring general
has nothing to do with being in matches, it’s about surviving the matches. I said that in one of my interviews tonight
and I do believe it. I think we were on the same level. I wasn’t intimidated at all in the slightest bit. I have been
in table matches and street fights during my history with TNA.
AW: We spoke about you winning
the X title in June. That took place at the taping of TNA’s new TV show Impact! which is taped at Universal Studios
in Orlando, Florida. What was your initial reaction to
being told PPV’s would still take place in Nashville Wednesday nights and
you would be flying here to film TV the next day?
AJ Styles: I thought it was
great to be getting two paychecks (laughs.) Actually just the fact we were going to have a show on a national level was the
step in the right direction. We were excited to see a step like that being taken by the company.
AW: The night you fought
Kash in the tables match was the final weekly PPV in Nashville as TNA moved into
the realm of the three hour monthly PPV event. What were your feelings when TNA
made that announcement to the fans and the locker room?
AJ Styles: It was sad since
we grew in Nashville. We did one taping in Alabama
but Nashville is where TNA made its mark. I hope one day TNA will return there.
We are now in Orlando where fans come to vacation so now they get the added bonus
of coming to Universal and seeing their favorite wrestlers. Fans are great down here and we are looking to grow our fanbase.
AW: On that first three hour
PPV called Victory Road held on November 7th you wrestled for
the X Division title once more, this time taking on a new champion named Petey Williams, the master of the Canadian Destroyer.
AJ Styles: I don’t
know about you Alan but I thought it was a great match. I don’t think it would have been as hard a match if I didn’t
have (Team Canada coach) Scott D’amore breathing down
my neck the whole match. Not to sound like an excuse maker but D’amore grabbing my ankles and other distractions led
to me getting hit by the Canadian Destroyer. No one will ever kick out of that move, it is breathtaking.
AW: That same night Jeff
Jarrett defeated Jeff Hardy in a ladder match with the help of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. That led to the formation of the
Kings of Wrestling but I want to know what made you run to the ring to aid Jeff Hardy?
AJ Styles: Well as you figured
out I’m not exactly fans of the Kings of Wrestling. If they’re such Kings why are they even wrestling having supposedly
“been there, done that.” It pissed me off that they came with the sole purpose to take over TNA after what they
did to WCW and I think I went down there to defend TNA’s honor more then protect Jeff.
AW: At the Turning Point
PPV in December you stood across the ring from the Kings with Jeff Hardy and “Macho Man” Randy Savage as your
AJ Styles: It all goes back
to what we brought up with wrestling Lex Luger and with other guys like Sting, Larry Zybzsko and Dusty Rhodes. I grew up watching
them like I watched Hall and Nash. It was awesome to be in a ring with them. These guys have been all over the world.
AW: Two nights at the Final
Resolution PPV you won the X Division title again. You won it in what many are calling one of the best matches in TNA Wrestling
history when you beat Petey Williams and Chris Sabin in an Ultimate X match. Talk the fans through how the three of you put
together an Ultimate X encounter.
AJ Styles: You have to be
innovative. We had to think of what the fans haven’t seen before and tell a great story. Fans told me they didn’t
know when and how the finish was coming. The three of us pulled off stuff that’s never been seen in wrestling, the moves
and bumps we took. All in all it was a great match that didn’t give the fans any clue who would get the belt. I think
I was the last person they thought would win since I was totally out of the picture in the ending moments. I can say I was
part of a great match with two fellow innovators Petey and Chris.
AW: Tonight during the Impact
tapings you went ten minutes with Christopher Daniels. As part of a pre-match stipulation, you being unable to pin Daniels
set up a title match with the “Fallen Angel” at Against All Odds where Dusty Rhodes has called for a thirty minute
iron man match. What was it like to go full tilt boogie for ten minutes with Mr. Daniels?
AJ Styles: Well we all know
how good Christopher Daniels is, the best moonsault ever. Who is to argue he can do it all in the ring. Ring general? Probably.
To go ten minutes with him was expected, you can’t pin a guy like him in five, six or even ten minutes. So when it comes
to the match at Against All Odds I think it will be off the charts. We have gone that long in other promotions and I think
people will remember it for a long time.
AW: I am sure fans were stunned
to read a press release from Ring Of Honor that announced on February 25th you will be returning to take on Jimmy
Rave. What led to the return to ROH and is it a long term deal?
AJ Styles: Actually it came
down to I had an opening on my schedule. Who knows with 3PW possibly closing down it could be long term. That night I will
be facing Jimmy Rave and putting my foot in his butt. He wants to be just like me and has taken to dressing like me and using
my move as the Rave Clash. It’s not the first time people have taken to dressing like me. At least Crash Holly chose
another name. Rave deserves what he is going to get on the 25th.
AW: Speaking of people dressing
like you, have you seen the ring attire Paul London wears to the ring on WWE TV?
AJ Styles: Gee I wonder where
he got that idea. I love Paul to death and I am not sure why he wears a jacket like mine. I think it’s a compliment
but why go with the hood? I don’t know if he’s acting like me or does the WWE think I am acting like him.
AW: Is there someone not
working for the WWE that you have not gotten to wrestle that you would like to face off with?
AJ Styles: I have to say
I have wrestled every Indy guy that is worthy to come to TNA. If I had to pick someone to recruit to work in TNA and be an
X Division wrestler it would be Matt Sydal. I think he can do no wrong in the ring and he has a great look.
AW: I think I know the answer
to this question, is there one interview question you wish would never be asked again?
AJ Styles: I know you asked
it when we talked the first time and it has to be about turning down WWE. (The interviewer has since apologized to Mr. Styles) I don’t know if it was because no one had ever turned them down; believe me
I didn’t want to turn them down. It’s the way things happened because I am here with TNA growing and learning
something new each day.
Thanks to Mr. Styles for
his time. Thanks to TNA’s Brad Bernstein for being my liaison for this interview. Be sure to log onto www.tnawrestling.com , www.ROHwrestling.com and for
information on where you can see AJ Styles in person log onto www.stylesclash.com